Asthma: What Parents Should Know

If you’ve ever witnessed (or experienced for yourself) the wheezing and breathlessness typical of asthma, then you know all too well how scary this common health issue can be. At St. Thomas Medical Group, pulmonary specialists are helping children and adults in Nashville treat their asthma.

Today on the St. Thomas Medical Group blog, let’s take a closer look at this lung disease.

Fast Facts About Asthma

The Centers for Disease Control and Statistics reports…

  • 6.2 million children under the age of 18 in the United States have asthma.
  • 8.4% of children under the age of 18 in the United States have asthma. (For comparison, 7.6% of adults age 18 and older have asthma.)
  • 2 million ER visits are caused by asthma.

Unfortunately, “the number of people with asthma continues to grow,” reports the CDC. Not only is asthma on the rise, but experts believe that many asthma attacks could be prevented with better education. For example, the CDC tells us that, “In 2008 less than half of people with asthma reported being taught how to avoid triggers. Almost half (48%) of adults who were taught how to avoid triggers did not follow most of this advice.”

At St. Thomas Medical Group, we believe that better patient education can lead to better outcomes.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

In children, symptoms may include:

  • Frequent coughing
  • Whistling/wheezing sound with exhalation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, congestion or tightness

In some cases, children with asthma may have trouble sleeping (due to shortness of breath or coughing). Difficulty catching breath may interfere with a child’s ability to play or exercise with peers. Respiratory infections may be more complex with longer illnesses and recovery periods among children with asthma.

How is asthma diagnosed?

Asthma can be difficult to diagnose. At St. Thomas Medical Group, a pulmonologist may inquire about your child’s health, symptoms, and family history. Asthma has a tendency to run in families, though not every family member will have it. Lung function tests, which measure exhalation rates and lung capacity, may also be used to aid in diagnosis. Other conditions may have to be ruled out first.

What treatments are available for asthma?

There is no “cure” for asthma. However, your child’s pulmonologist may be able to provide you with quick relief and long-term control medications that can help reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

  • Quick-relief medications – such as steroids and bronchodilators (“inhalers”) – can often provide symptomatic relief during an attack. In some cases, your child’s doctor may advise using a quick-relief medication prior to exercise or activity.
  • Long-term relief medications, such as corticosteroids or leukotriene modifiers, can also help reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent attacks from occurring. (Please note, these are only a few examples of medications used; only a physician can prescribe appropriate medication for asthma.)

See a Pulmonologist In Nashville, TN

To schedule an appointment with a board-certified pulmonologist in Nashville, contact St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 964-5864 or by making an appointment online.